At Wayzata Central Middle School, the future is here. All of the district's 3,700 middle school students and freshman now have their own school issued iPad, and the device plays an integral role in daily learning in the classroom and at home.
Gone are the days when smart devices were considered a distraction or a problem in the classroom, now the technology is considered a primary learning tool in the Wayzata School District.
"What these devices do is they bring the world of learning to wherever a student is, whether it's in school or in home," said Jill Johnson, Wayzata's Executive Director of Teaching and Learning.
A $2.9 million technology levy passed in 2009 allowed the Wayzata district to issue iPads to all sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth graders this year. The students have access to the device around the clock. Elementary school students are also using iPads in the classroom, but eventually the district would like to issue an iPad to all of the district's 10,000 students.
"I think all you need to do is look in anyone's hand, on their desk, or in their pocket, and you'll understand the importance of technology in today's world," said Johnson.
Seventh grade science teacher Jessie Starken uses the iPad in about 60% of her classroom instruction. Starken says her students take quizes on their devices, complete assignments, and can look up information at their own pace.
"It's really a tool that allows students to do so many different things," said Starken. "They can take a quiz and then have another activity right afterwards, and there's no down time."
Johnson said the iPads help connect students to a world of information instantly that wasn't accessible in years past. And the students can access that information at any time.
"It used to be that you had to come to school to get the information, now the information will come to you wherever you are," said Johnson.
Wayzata students, 13-year-old Cole Seyfert and 12-year-old Elizabeth Hill, think of their iPads as a mobile teacher that's with them at all times recalling assignments and the day's lessons.
"When it's digital, you can always have it with you, and you can always access it later, and it helps you remember better," said Hill.
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